Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Make a Wish… March 13, 2014

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birthday cakeHere’s an article of mine which was just featured on the Divorce Support Center website. http://divorcesupportcenter.com/

My sons aren’t “little” anymore, though they were when their father and I got divorced. And that was scary! I think the single biggest issue for their father and I

when we decided that our marriage was simply not going to work, was how to end it in such a way that the impact did not negatively affect our children. It wasn’t easy.

Because truly, with the exception of possibly ending an abusive, volatile relationship – how could a divorce negatively affect the kids? The very nature of the beast requires significant changes at the very core of our lives for all of the parties involved, and the importance of stability at home is probably felt most acutely by those who have the least control and resources with which to understand it – the children.

In fact, it is probably true that many couples, stay together “for the children,” despite their own personal needs and desires to separate. Not too long ago, that was probably “the norm,” but not so much anymore. And I am not going to digress here into the “rightness” or “wrongness” of a couple’s decision to remain married or not, there are enough eager voices out there who are willing to judge the life choices of others, mine is not one of them. But I will say this, if you are a parent whether you choose to divorce or stay together – you absolutely have a responsibility to do your best to give your children what they need to grow up into confident, healthy and well-adjusted members of society.

So what does that mean exactly? Well, in the case of divorce, it means keeping your children out of the emotional fray, letting them know how much they are loved, providing as stable and consistent a home life as possible, fostering healthy relationships with both of their parents, being there to support their emotions, and finding other outlets to deal with your own: for starters.

And you may not want to hear this but if you thought that parenting was challenging before, you better brace yourself for the challenges of single-parenthood, which is not to say that it won’t at some point become easier and more normative. But if the situation allows it, the reality is, they still have another parent and is your best option. It isn’t always easy; after all your emotions are running high, too.

But you are the grown-up, and your children need you now more than ever to act like one. Agreeing with your spouse to put the needs of your kids first – is the first step. And you may need to remind yourselves, over and over, and in countless ways, what this actually means on a day-to-day basis – but you will be rewarded in the long run.

Last week was my son’s nineteenth birthday. It was his tenth birthday since his father and I separated. And I was a bit surprised when about a week earlier he had asked me if his dad could join us for dinner. I said, “Yes.” And though clearly it wasn’t the “nuclear family” of yester-year, it was a pleasant evening. I made his favorite dinner and his dad made his favorite cake. I don’t think any of us, for even a moment were fooled by the guest list into thinking that we were the same family that we had been years before, and yet we were still a family inextricably and forever bound to one another.

It was awkward and fine. But most importantly, my sons were both happy, and that’s what it’s all about.

 

Meeting “The Man” July 20, 2011

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My son just left to get his hair cut. It’s a big deal for him, not exactly as big a deal as it was for Samson – but close enough for this non-biblical tale. For the last year or so – with varying degrees of enthusiasm – he has been trying to get a part-time job in this relatively small town. There isn’t much out there and until a month or so ago his prospects were looking pretty bleak. But it seemed that he had finally landed something at a local pizza chain and went in last week as planned to fill out the required paperwork – only to be told, “Come back next week and in the meantime – get your hair cut.” And so, reluctantly he trod off to hair salon with old photo of a younger, shorter “tressed” version of himself in hand as a guide.

My son – “has my hair”. Not literally of course I have plenty of my own – but genetically he seems to have gotten the thick, curly locks of his Italian-American mother, and though it is not as long as it was a year ago, he doesn’t wear it short. And it suits him. He is a good kid, who likes to think of himself as a free-thinking, non-conformist – and his hair was such a notable characteristic in his overall look – that there is probably not another physical change in his appearance that would have as big an impact. So cutting his hair is really not something he wants to do – and yet he is accepting it as a necessary trade-off in getting a job, which clearly he wanted and needed even more. It’s one of those “life lessons” he likely will not forget.

In order to make our way out in the “real world” there will be a lot of compromises along the way. Sometimes we choose to go along with what is asked of us, and sometimes we do not. The trick is knowing who you are, what is important to you and what you are willing to give up or not. Learning to negotiate the compromise is something that we need to master on some level as we face the responsibilities of living life in this world. I will miss my son’s longish locks, but I am proud of the young man who made the decision to get them cut in order to move forward. He can grow his hair again one day if that’s what he wants to do – and the growth he will get from this experience is just one step out into the big world that will require a lot more from him some day.

 

Squeaky Doors and Life Goals August 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 5:32 am
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Every time I sit down and start to write something on my computer, I need to change the font and the size before I begin. The default setting for my writing program has small, tight little lettering that I cannot read easily. Even when I put on my glasses and the letters pull into focus, I find the font annoyingly petty and hard, and within a couple of words I am compelled to change it to the open larger font that fits my style and visual abilities better. I have tried several times to change the default setting but so far I have been unable to locate it’s carefully hidden home one my computer. Maybe someday it will reveal itself to me and for now I am fine with the routine.

This got me to thinking about the daily accommodations we make in our lives for all of the things that aren’t quite to our liking. There are loads of them. The cabinet door handle which needs to be lifted when closed lest it bang in to the adjacent door, the hook for my towel which has a fondness for dropping my towel to the floor on a regular basis, the friend who always wants to eat dinner earlier than I do when we get together; each of these things require a small bit of extra effort on my part in order to make them work for me. And for now, I am okay with that, a little annoyed or inconvenienced but basically fine.

The question is when do you get to the point when you decide enough is enough and it is time for a real change? The threshold is different for everything. We have the ability to adapt to “unpleasant” circumstances and we do, every day in little ways and in bigger ones. Creating change often requires effort on our part and some things just don’t seem worth the time. If you were to fix every squeaky door in your life – would you be happier or would you start to notice the squeak of the floor boards instead?

We all have a certain amount of resources to work with – and how we meter them out for the things requiring our attention and energy is an individual decision. But I wonder if we were to begin somewhere, anywhere with correcting those things that are not aligned with our preferences would it actually free up more time and energy to pursue what we really want in our lives? If you were to clear one item off of your list of necessary adaptations would you free up the space to pursue a more desirable goal? It’s worth a try isn’t it? After all, wouldn’t you prefer your time and energy was directed more completely toward the goals you really want to pursue? Some accommodations serve a function and our ability to accept them may require little effort – but some? Some things need to be re-aligned, what are the things that you are ready, willing and able to devote your energies to? Figuring that out may be more effort than you are willing or able to expend at this moment – but being on the other side of “the fix” can be a beautiful thing. Think of all the mental energy that you can free up, ahhhhh…